How to Use Adobe Lightroom 3’s Watermark Editor to Protect Your Online Images

by Alan Haynes / PhotoCitizen on January 24, 2011

Uploading images to the web? Protect them with visible watermarks. Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 makes it easy to apply custom watermarks to batches of images.

Adobe Lightroom 3’s full-featured Watermark Editor is a huge improvement over the simple watermarking capability of Lightroom 2. With the Watermark Editor, you can create text or graphic watermarks. In this article, I’ll give you step-by-step instructions for creating and applying text watermarks using the Watermark Editor in Lightroom 3’s Web module.

adobe-lightroom-3-watermarks - exampleThe watermarks that you create there can also be applied to images exported using the Export button, to prints in the Print module and to movies you create in the Slideshow module. But, for this article, I’ll concentrate on images bound for the web.

In future articles, I’ll discuss graphic watermarks and how to upload your watermarked images to the web from within Lightroom using Publish Services or the FTP panel.

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Using Lightroom 3’s Watermark Editor

Text watermarks are easy to make in Lightroom 3. And they can be created without any external software: Lightroom handles everything within its own Watermark Editor.

These instructions work for both the Windows and Mac versions of Lightroom, but Mac owners will need to substitute the Command key for the Control (CTRL) key in the keyboard shortcuts mentioned below.

Selecting Images for Watermarking

    1. In Lightroom’s Library module, select a few photos to work on. You only need a dozen or so for this exercise.
      How to make watermarks with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 - Library Module

      Library Module

      I suggest choosing at least one horizontal (landscape) image and one vertical (portrait) image. Also, choose images with different color palettes: some with a lot of white, some with a lot of dark areas, some very colorful and some with more pastel tones. This will allow us to view our new watermark over a wide variety of images.

    2. Place the images in a Collection to make it easier to keep them together. Collections are available once we switch to the Web module, but Folders are not.

Drag your selected images into the collection. I’ll use a collection called “Alan’s Watermarks.” (HINT: CTRL+N allows you to create a new collection).

Switch to the Web Module

    1. Go to Lightroom’s Web module by clicking the word Web in the upper right of your screen.
      Create a watermark with Lightroom 3 - Web Module

      Web Module

      If you don’t see Web, you probably have your top panel – called the Module Picker – closed. Press the F5 button on your keyboard to open it. Or, use the keyboard shortcut to go directly to the Web module: CTR+ALT+5.

    2. Lightroom will create a preview of a web page. The design of the web page is not important now.
    3. Make sure all of your images are selected in the Filmstrip panel at the bottom of the screen (F6 opens the Filmstrip). Click on one of the Filmstrip images and type CTRL+A to select all.

Output Settings

    1. In the right-hand panel (press F8 to open it if it is closed), scroll down to the Output Settings panel which is second from the bottom.
Lightroom 3 watermarking - Edit Watermarks

Edit Watermarks

    1. If it’s not already open, click on the left-facing triangle next to the words Output Settings to open it.
    2. In the middle of the Output Settings panel, you’ll see Watermarking: Simple Copyright Watermark. The words to the right of the colon may be different.
    3. Left-click on Simple Copyright Watermark (or whatever it says there) to open the Watermark Editor’s dialog box.
    4. At the bottom of the dialog box, click Edit Watermarks.

Getting Started with the Watermark Editor

    1. Now, the Watermark Editor window pops up and we’re ready to get to work.
Watermarking with Adobe Lightroom 3 - Watermark Editor layout

Watermark Editor Layout

    1. The Watermark Editor is divided into three main sections:
      • The largest portion of the screen shows a preview of your selected image with the watermark applied. (HINT: If the preview area doesn’t show an image, it’s because you forgot to select your images as described in step 5 above.)
      • Below that is a text box where you type the desired text. It probably contains just the word “Copyright.” We’ll change that in a bit.
      • The right-hand panel contains all the watermark options and settings.
    2. In the upper right, make sure the Watermark Style is set to Text. There should be a blue dot next to the word Text. We’ll discuss graphic watermarks in a future article.
Adobe Lightroom 3 watermarking - text entry

Enter Text

    1. In the bottom text box, type the text for your watermark. I suggest using your website address so that whenever your photo is viewed, it advertises your site. I’ll use the text “©” (HINT: The easiest way to type the copyright symbol is to hold down the ALT key while you type the numbers 0169 on the numeric keypad, not the numbers at the top of the keyboard.)
    2. The text you entered will appear as a  completely opaque watermark in the lower left corner of your image. In Lightroom 2, this was the only type of watermark available. Lightroom 3 allows us to fully customize our watermark, so let’s do it.

Customizing A Watermark: Text Options

    1. In the right-hand panel, we’ll begin with the Text Options sub panel. (NOTE: Don’t click the Choose button in the first sub panel called Image Options. That’s for graphic watermarks only.)
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 Watermarking - Text Options

Text Options

    1. Use the first two dropdown menus to choose a font and font style. You can choose any font that’s installed on your computer. I like a simple sans-serif font, so I’ll choose Century Gothic and Regular. (HINT: If you know the name of the font you’d like to use, press the first letter of its name on your keyboard to get to it in the list without so much scrolling.)
    2. The watermark text on the image preview will change instantly as you change settings in the right-hand panel. It is not necessary to refresh the screen or click on a preview button (there isn’t one). The text will look pretty ugly at this point, but we’re going to refine it as we go.
    3. The Align setting aligns the text within its text box, not across the image. Unless you have more than one line of text in your watermark, you won’t notice much of an effect. For our single-line watermark, it will make a slight difference later. I’ll choose Center.
    4. If you want the text to be something other than white, click on the Color box to choose a different color. I prefer white since it blends in nicely once we adjust a few other settings.
    5. In the Shadow section, play with the sliders to get a pleasing drop shadow. Here are my settings: Opacity=80, Offset=7, Radius=10 and Angle=45.

Customizing A Watermark: Watermark Effects

    1. Opacity is an important setting. It is the key to creating a visible, yet unobtrusive watermark. I usually set opacity to around 20 percent.
Lightroom 3 Watermarks - Watemark Effects Panel

Watemark Effects

    1. Now, click the two black arrows at the top right of the preview screen – just to the left of Watermark Style – to view your watermark as applied to each of your selected images. It’s visibility will change depending on the image below. It will be more visible against a dark background, for example. Adjust the opacity until the watermark is acceptably transparent over all of your images.
    2. The next setting is Size. Here, you have a choice of Proportional, Fit or Fill as well as a slider to adjust the text size.
      • I always use Proportional because it sizes the text relative to the size of the image so it looks good on images of any size or orientation. The Size slider is only available when you’ve chosen Proportional. I’ll set it to 14.
      • If you choose Fit, then wide (landscape) images will have a larger watermark than narrow (portrait) images.
      • The Fill option is useful only if your text consists of a single character – such as ©. It will fill the image with that character. Longer text will be truncated so only a few letters are visible. Fill is more useful with graphic watermarks.
    3. We’ll skip Inset for now and set the Anchor first. The grid of nine dots represents where on your image the watermark should be placed. I’ll center my watermark along the bottom of the image by clicking the middle dot on the bottom row. If you’d like the text to be vertical instead of horizontal, click on one of the Rotate arrows. Rotation looks best when the text is placed at the edge rather than in the center, so I won’t use any rotation.
    4. Now, we’ll set the Inset. This sets the amount of space between the edge of your image and your watermark. Notice that with the watermark centered, the Horizontal inset slider is grayed out and not available. Horizontal inset only works with watermarks placed at the edge of the image, so if you had chosen any of the six anchor dots other than those in the center, you would be able to set the Horizontal inset as well.
    5. For our centered watermark, only the Vertical inset slider is available. We’ll adjust this so that there is a little space between our watermark and the bottom of our image. I’ve set it to 4.

Create A New Watermark Preset

Watermarks with Lightroom 3 - Save Preset

Save Preset

    1. Now that we’ve spent some time creating the perfect watermark, let’s save the settings so we don’t have to go through all this again. In the upper-left corner of the Watermark Editor screen, you’ll see a long button that probably says Custom. This is the preset selector. Left-click it to open its dropdown menu. (NOTE: If you already have some presets made, this box might say something other than Custom, but it will work the same way.)
    2. If you have already created some presets, the dropdown menu will display their names. If not, it will be mostly blank. Either way, click on Save Current Settings as New Preset.
    3. The New Preset dialog box will pop up. All you do here is give your new preset a name. Give it a descriptive name that will help you remember what it does. I’ll call mine “© – Century Gothic.”
    4. Click the Create button to save your preset. Now you’ll notice that the text in the preset selector button has the name of your new preset instead of “Custom.”
    5. Click the Done button in the lower-right of your screen to return to Lightroom’s Web Module.

Wrapping It Up

    1. The Web Module will take a few seconds to update all of your selected images with the new watermark.
    2. Click on one of the web thumbnails to view the image and you’ll see it just as it will appear on the web, watermark and all.
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 Watermarking - Output Settings

Output Settings Panel

  1. Now all you have to do is Export them or Upload them. Those are topics for another time.
  2. To use your new watermark on other web images, just select your new preset in the Output Settings panel. There’s no need to re-visit the Watermark Editor unless you want to make changes or create a new watermark.

Get Adobe Lightroom 3

If you don’t own Lightroom 3, what are you waiting for? Every photographer should have it. You can download Lightroom 3 directly from Adobe here: Adobe Lightroom 3. They even have a free trial available.

Or, save yourself a few bucks by upgrading to Lightroom 3 from one of these PhotoCitizen-recommended merchants:

Purchases made through links on this page help to keep the articles flowing. Thanks for supporting PhotoCitizen.

Final Thoughts

You might want to create a few different watermarks meant for different purposes: one for your personal website and another for your business site, for example.

As you accumulate watermarks, you may need to change or delete them.

To change the settings of a watermark, simply choose that watermark from the dropdown menu button mentioned in step 28. Change the watermark settings. Then click on the same dropdown menu button and choose “Update Preset” (it will be followed by the name of your preset). This will keep the original name of the preset, but update it with your new settings. If you want to keep the original as well, then choose “Save Current Settings as New Preset” instead.

To delete a watermark preset, choose it from the dropdown and then “Delete Preset.” You can also rename a preset.

Have questions or something to add? Leave a comment below.

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1 Steve Gould January 25, 2011 at 10:58 pm

Alan, nicely done. 🙂

2 Sherri Frost March 20, 2012 at 10:42 pm

I’m new to Lightroom 3 and somehow managed to put a copyright on all images. How do I remove it from the images?

3 Alan Haynes / PhotoCitizen March 25, 2012 at 10:31 am

Hi Sherri,

You’ll have to re-upload your photos without the watermark. There is no way to remove the watermark.


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